Old Faces And An Unexpected Reunion
Edna was still deep in thought about her actions earlier in the park. It reminded her too much of the circumstances surrounding Alfred’s death. Only this time, she did this as an adult and was therefore of the age of criminal responsibility... unless she could not be held responsible because of insanity defense – that was, if Doctor Marcel had pronounced her insane. It was not a pretty thought but there was a possibility, seeing that she was kept in his mental institution for ten years. Gerret had told her about all this after her first encounter with Doctor Marcel following the incident where she pushed him down the stairs. But Edna could not remember everything he had told her...
“Hurry up, Konrad! Don’t sleep on the job!“, a cook shouted.
“Yes sir”, she responded and took a dish and brought it to the respective guest. Then she went over to the next one.
“Good evening and welcome to the Mare de Sol. What w- Mister Hornbush!?”
Edna was astounded to see her old teacher again. He had not changed much since she was eight years old; he still had a portly belly and he still wore glasses. The only difference, and proof that so many years had passed, was that he had more wrinkles, making his resemblance to an alien from Star Trek even more pronounced.
“Edna? Edna Konrad?”
Apparently, he was just as surprised as she was.
“What are you doing here?”
“I have a part-time job here”, the still perplexed Edna explained.
“Well, I hope you do a better job here than you did in my classes”, Mister Hornbush said in his wheezy voice, raising the menu a little higher. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, then put the menu down and looked straight at her.
“Of course, I am sure you’re glad that Alfred’s now gone. Now that he won’t beat you in any test and tell on you anymore.”
Edna felt a pang in her chest. She could not speak or move; she was like a wax figure. She could just not believe he would accuse her of something like this. It was almost as bad as knowing she was Alfred’s killer. She felt tears welling up in her eyes but fought them back. She was not going to cry; no, she was not going to cry. Taking a deep breath to calm herself down, she worded her answer:
“No, I’m not. So, what will it be?”
“I’ll have a glass of beer and the beef steak with potatoes”, Mister Hornbush replied. Edna made a note of it and told him his orders would be there shortly before walking away. After walking just a few steps, she stopped, turned around and spoke in a heavy voice:
“Just so you know I miss him.”
Then she kept on walking.
The rest of her shift went on without any incidents, except when a colleague slipped on a spilled pool of gravy while carrying a large plate of spaghetti Bolognese. While he slid forward a few meters, the plate had flown up in the air and, miraculously, landed on his head, making the spaghetti look like a curly hairdo and the plate like a hat. A few guests had filmed the incidents on their phones and the video was probably on the Internet by now. It had distracted Edna from her thoughts, but now they were back again. It had been such a good day until she encountered Heike, Daniel and Gabrielle in the park...
“Hey. Hey! Edna!”
She blinked in surprised upon hearing her name being shouted:
“Uh, what?“, she asked stupidly, meeting Anika’s concerned gaze.
“Are you feeling alright? You’ve been so quiet...“, her colleague inquired, frowning. But Edna just shook her head, assuring her she was fine.
“Okay...“, Anika replied slowly. “By the way, who was the older man I saw you talking with earlier? You know, the guy with the blue skin.”
“Oh, um, he... he used to be my teacher... years ago”, Edna replied quietly. She heard Anika reply but Edna did not listen. She took her things and left, without bothering to change her clothes. Her mind was back at the moment when Heike, Daniel and Gabrielle bullied her in the park. Yes, she was furious at them for talking about her parents that way but the fact she pushed one of them because they had taken Harvey away... The memory shocked Edna more than the electroshock therapy. Still, how did Gabrielle know about Mattis being a murderer, albeit one who did not commit the crime? Gabrielle had been in an age when she would not regularly read the newspaper when it happened. Edna stopped walking and looked up to the sky wishing life would be easier...
It was dark and quiet when Edna came back home. Tina’s probably already asleep, she thought to herself as she took off her shoes. She walked into the living room and switched the light on, spotting a plate with lasagna on the table. Next to it was a note:
I thought I leave you some of the lasagna I made in case you’re hungry after your shift. Just heat it up in the microwave for two minutes.
A faint hint of a smile appeared on Edna’s face. At least she had someone to look out for her. Suddenly feeling famished, she took the plate and walked to the kitchen, where she heated it up. She changed into her pajamas while waiting for it to be well done. Then she wolfed the lasagna down, leaving traces of her meal all over her face and pajama top. Edna simply placed the now empty plate in the kitchen sink. In the bathroom, she washed her face and brushed her teeth, then took off her top and threw it on the heap with the other dirty clothes. Back in her room, she chose a new top and put it on before falling on her bed.
“Hey Edna, how was your day?“, Harvey greeted her. The young woman turned her head to the side to look at him, quietly replying:
“It was alright, I guess...”
Then she turned her head back to the way it was before, looking up at the ceiling. It was like someone had pressed the mute button on a remote. Everything was awfully quiet; no one going out late at night, no cars driving past, no indecent sounds the neighbors downstairs sometimes made, no sound of a riot, nothing. The silence pressed on Edna’s ears like the loneness she had felt in the asylum, the short minutes between losing her memories again and talking to Harvey. These moments were the loneliest and most confusing ones; she did not know who she was or where she was. She was alone in her padded cell with just a stuffed rabbit to keep her company. It was only when she spoke to the rabbit, she began to remember. This was the way it had gone on for years, a never-ending cycle...
“I saw Mister Hornbush today”, Edna added to her previous statement.
“Really? He’s still alive?”
“Yes, hasn’t changed much, just more wrinkles...”
Edna rolled to her side, now looking directly at Harvey:
“Let’s go to sleep.”
“Oh please, tell me more about Mister Hornbush!“, Harvey begged childishly.
“Tomorrow”, Edna simply stated, closing her eyes.
She was four years old. Harvey, who she carried in her arms, seemed to be gigantic now. Looking around, she realized she was back in her childhood home, though it felt like she was the only one here.
“Mommy?“, she called in a tiny, fearful voice. No answer, just the creepily quiet house. “Mommy, where are you?”
Still nothing. Everything in this house felt so big, like it belonged to a giant. Edna felt lonely. Where was her mother? She did not leave her, did she? A loud ringing disturbed the silence like a bell ringing in a library. Little Edna started, almost dropping Harvey. She looked around for the source of the noise, at last setting her eyes on a telephone. Someone had to answer it so she ran towards it. It felt like the phone was miles away for she did not seem to come any closer or very slowly, as if she was as slow as a snail. She feared the caller would hang up if she would not answer soon. Why was there nobody else to answer the telephone? At last, she reached the phone but there as yet another problem. The table, on which the phone was situated, was too tall for her, almost as tall as a tree. Edna removed one hand from Harvey and stretched it in an attempt to reach the device. No such luck. She stood on her tip-toes and tried it again, while the loud ringing pierced into her ears...
Edna woke up, dazed and disoriented. She used to have this dream several times in the asylum – the sight of phones always reminded her of it. But what she had failed to notice before was that it felt more like a memory. Was it because she dreamed the dream before or did this really happen? Last time a dream felt a memory, it turned out to be real. She could easily ask Harvey now but a part of her wanted to find it out by herself. Edna sat up, rubbing an eye. She felt something wet on her finger and realized she had been crying. Well, the dream was kind of sad in a way... A lonely little girl calling for her mother and receiving no answer, what was there not to be sad about? Edna had to think about her mother, whom she lost when she was little. She did not know how her mother died but every time she tried to remember the event, she could only hear her mother’s blood-curdling scream. She shuddered when she heard the scream in her head again. It was painful for her to not remember anything. Sometimes, she wondered if she could not recall the circumstance of her mother’s death because she was repressing the memory or if it was just Doctor Marcel’s meddling. Whatever it was, she was sure of one thing, she missed both her mother and father.
Edna sighed and got up, deciding to eat breakfast and to try to think of something different. Tina was already in the kitchen, pouring cereals in a bowl. She looked towards the doorway when she heard Edna approaching.
“Morning”, she greeted her. “Some cereals for you too?”
Edna simply nodded in answer. Tina took a second bowl out of the cupboard and filled it with cereals and milk before adding the latter to her own. Then she took two spoons, giving Edna one spoon and bowl. Edna took these two items with a quiet word of thanks and walked to the living room, followed by her housemate. Tina turned on the television and zapped through the channels while they ate. However, there was nothing of interest, just old reruns of shows neither of them liked. After breakfast, Tina cleaned the bowls and spoons while Edna got dressed, then she took some art supplies and Harvey from her room. She put Harvey on the table, a bit away from her to prevent him getting covered in clay – even though she knew he would not mind it. But she did not want him to cover himself with all of it; otherwise she would not be able to make anything. She left the room to get a bowl of water and when she returned, she started crafting. Tina had given up on watching anything on television and had instead decided on watching a movie on Blu Ray – Tangled. The younger woman of the two only listened with one ear; she was more focused in forming a Leviathan with her clay. That, and she kept thinking about her encounters from the day before and her dream... However, when the villain song started, she looked at the television to watch the scene. From then on, she gazed at the movie every now and then. There was something about Rapunzel that reminded Edna of herself – they both spent a good chunk of their lives locked in a tower with little to no contact to other people. Rapunzel escaped from her tower with the help of a thief to see the floating lights. Edna escaped alone to be free, with only Harvey to help her remember and with the Key Master, who had a plan. Well, Aluman and Hoti and Moti helped too, but it was her who did most work. And Rapunzel had ludicrously long hair, which I do not have, Edna thought to herself absentmindedly while adding a few details to her Leviathan. However, she stopped working on her clay sculpture once Rapunzel was back in her tower and paid attention to the movie from then on. This was when Edna realized one big difference between her and the main character – Rapunzel had many friends, who would save her without hesitation, while she, Edna, had little to no friends and she had to ask for help. Now when she thought about this, what happened to Aluman, Hoti and Moti? Last time she saw Aluman, he was struck by lightning but was he still alive? Or was he dead?
Her attention was back to the movie when the male lead climbed the tower using Rapunzel’s hair for a rope. Edna made an uncomfortable face when the villain stabbed him and blamed Rapunzel. It this was not her fault, Edna thought... Just like how it was not my fault the Key Master killed the reverend. Why did it take for her so long to have this epiphany? For years, she had blamed herself for his murder, although she did not have to. Now she felt a little lighter, like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders.
Edna continued watching the movie, feeling a lump in her throat however. At the moment, she wished she was in Rapunzel’s place, with both parents still alive and running to her to embrace her after having been separated for so long. But she knew it was not possible; her parents were dead and the sad thing was she did not even know how it happened. She would never see her parents again... Something wet fell on her hand. Edna looked down to see a tear, not having realized she had started crying. She wiped the tear on her hand and in her eyes away and dedicated herself to her sculpture once again. She did not want to think about her parents and feel the pain. Nothing could bring them back to her...
The movie had been over for a good hour by the time Edna finished forming her clay into a Leviathan. It just had to be heated up at a high temperature and then, after letting it cool down, color could be added. But first, Edna decided to take a break. She looked over to Tina to see what she was watching now; just some styling show. In a way, Edna was jealous of her. Tina led a life Edna wishes for herself; both parents alive, a sibling – a brother – school graduation, a real job... Things Edna wanted in her life too. Yes, she had a part-time job and yes, she was working on a graduation but she should have both feet on the ground at her current point of life. Maybe she would even be married and have a new family if her life had not turned for the worse...
“Oh Harvey, if only life would be easier”, she sighed, holding the rabbit close to her chest. However, it was not Harvey who answered:
“What makes you say that?”
It was Tina, who had shifted in her seat to look directly at Edna. Behind, the television set was muted as the commercial break was running. Edna hesitated, not really sure if she should tell her, but before she knew it, she told her about the incident with Heike, Daniel and Gabrielle in the park and her encounter with her old teacher. Tina listened attentively, never interrupting once. Her jaw dropped at the part where Edna pushed Heike in the pond and she had a horrified expression when she heard Mister Hornbush accused Edna of being glad Alfred was dead.
“Hm...“, Tina hummed after Edna finished talking. She stood up and walked around, biting her thumbnail in thought. Edna watched her walking back and forth as if she was following an exciting tennis match. Eventually, Tina stopped walking and turned around to look at the younger woman.
“You know, maybe we should upload that picture of you in your bikini on the Internet. Maybe you’ll get a boyfriend”, she said with a grin. Edna knew she only said this to lighten the mood but she was not in the mood for a joke like that.
“You don’t get it, do you?“, she retorted angrily leaving the living room with Harvey. First, she took her wallet from her room and then she put on a pair of boots before leaving the apartment. She knew Tina meant it well but there were times when she could do with these little jokes and when she could not.
Edna walked along the streets, not really paying attention to the people and cars, just enough to not get run over. She did not know what to do... in fact, she did not want even be among people. She just wanted to be alone, with only Harvey by her side. Her eyes fell on the train station just across the streets. She knew where she had to go...
The old village had not changed much over the years. Everything was just the way Edna remembered it when left her home to live a new life. And yet, there was something different about this place. A subtle change not noticeable unless one looked close enough. Or did the village not change at all, but she did? Edna took a deep breath as she walked towards the village. In the distance, like an ever present ominous landmark, towered the very place she lost a good chunk of her life in. There was no way she was going to go back there on her own free will. They would have to drug her, knock her out and tie up to bring her back to the asylum. And even then she would put up a fight. Across the mental institution was the convent school, where Edna hid at for a while. Even in the distance, she could see it was abandoned. Edna smiled fondly as she thought about her only friend from the convent, Lilli – a shy and quiet girl and a great friend. More often than not, she wondered how her friend was doing for she had not seen her in a long time... Maybe she should go see Gerret and ask him. He might know something.
With this in mind, Edna leisurely strolled along the streets of her old hometown in the lazy afternoon sun. No one paid her any attention, which had taken her aback. She would have expected some kind of reaction from the citizens, like a scream or something. But no, nothing it all. It made her unsure whether she should be relieved or suspicious about this... Well, maybe she should be glad people were ignoring her. That way, no one could alert Doctor Marcel of her presence here before she remembered he was probably still in jail. Perhaps she could take the time to visit her parents’ graves. She knew where her father was located, having found it by chance during her breakout; however, she was unaware of the location of her mother’s grave. All she knew was that her parents were not buried next to each other. It broke her heart to know this; it felt like they were not even in death together.
Edna had just walked past the police station when she heard a familiar, scratchy voice call her name:
“Edna? Is that you?”
It was Gerret, a police officer who had helped Edna and Lilli a great deal a few years ago. He had not changed since she had last seen him; he was still as ashen-faced as he was back then. Edna wondered if he actually ever saw the sun. Gerret just leaned against the exterior wall of the police station, looking at her with big surprised eyes. He held a lot cigarette between his index and middle finger.
“What are you doing here?“, he questioned, taking a drag.
“I... I just thought I could visit my old hometown”, Edna replied, now wondering if this was such a good idea after all.
“Okay, but be careful. Doctor Marcel’s minions could be anywhere”, the police officer warned her. Edna snorted:
“Why should I be worried about them? Doctor Marcel’s behind bars.”
“Not anymore”, Gerret confessed. “His son has bailed him out ages ago.”
“W-what? How... how can that be?“, Edna stammered. She felt like her brain stopped working.
“Yeah! How can that be!?“, Harvey was just as dumbfounded as she was.
“Alfred’s dead!“, Edna almost shouted, like she was trying to convince not just Gerret, but also herself of this fact. The police officer just took another drag before calmly replying:
“Alfred wasn’t Doctor Marcel’s only child.”
“What!? He had another child!? Who would be crazy enough to have more than one child with that guy!? Even one is too much!“, Harvey exclaimed.
“I didn’t know Alfred had a brother... Why had he never said anything?“, Edna wondered, having to stomach this new piece of information. “What’s his name? What does he look like?”
“I don’t know; it wasn’t me who let his father out. It was the other officer – you know, the one who did the tutorial in Harvey’s New Eyes“, Gerret replied.
“Oh man, that guy was no fun with his ‘always be careful’ attitude”, the blue, stuffed lagomorph scoffed.
“Oh yes, I remember that guy”, Edna said, nodding. “But has he at least mentioned something about Alfred’s brother?”
“Actually he has”, the police officer confirmed, putting out his cigarette. “He told me he’s hiding his face under a paper bag and that he seems to have a bad eye sight. Apparently, he kept running against the door to the police station until somebody opened it.”
“Wait a minute... he let a guy, whose face he can’t even see, bail out Doctor Marcel!?“, Edna asked incredulously.
“Yes... we should have known better after he let out Edmund The Slasher after he told him he was sorry”, Gerret sighed. “I remember my old man telling me how hard it was to catch Edmund.”
“Edmund... The Slasher?”
Edna tilted her head. She could swear she had heard the name once before, a long time ago. If only she could remember...
“He was a mass murderer who stroke terror into people’s hearts in this village, mercilessly killing innocent people. My father was on the team that caught him at last – I was just a teenager back then. But they made the mistake to have Tutorial Guy guard him and, well, I already told you what he did.”
“Did the police ever catch Edmund?”
“Yes, about half a year after he was let out. He’s now in a high security prison”, Gerret took out a pack of chewing gums, chucking one in his mouth before offering Edna one. She accepted one with a thanks. “How have you been doing?”
She decided not to tell him about the troubles plaguing her.
“Pretty good actually. How about you?”
“I’ve been doing well myself, too. I hope you and Tina get along.”
“Sure we do and she’s a great help with my English homework or when I study for a test”, Edna told him with a grin. “Say, do you know how Lilli has been doing?”
“Last I heard she was adopted. But that’s all I know.”
“Wow, that’s great! I’m glad she has a family now”, Edna grinned from ear to ear. She had always felt sorry for Lilli for not having a family anymore. She knew how it felt and hearing the news her friend had new parents was the best she heard in a while. Speaking of parents... “Gerret, can you do me a favor?”
“Sure, what do you need?”
“I want to visit my parents’ graves; do you think you could buy two flower bouquets for me?”
“No problem. Besides, the only local flower store is owned by the girlfriend of one of Doctor Marcel’s minions. If she would see you, she would surely tell her boyfriend.”
Edna was now glad she had asked him to buy the flowers for her. Since she knew Doctor Marcel was not behind bars, she rather wanted to be on the safe side. Gerret ran to the flower store and came back a few minutes later, holding two bouquets of various flowers Edna did not know the names of.
“Thank you”, she said, taking the flowers and paying him back with her own money. “Well, I better be off. See you.”
Edna kept herself hidden, now knowing the risk of getting back to the asylum was higher. Now she was really glad no one paid attention to her, otherwise she might be in trouble. Of course, she could just take the train and go back home but she could just not bring herself to do this. Her desire to see the grave of her father and her mother was just too great. It was like she was made of iron and a giant magnet in the cemetery was pulling her towards this place. It would be the first time in years she would see her father’s grave and the very first time in her life she would see her mother’s. This time, she would pay them her proper respect and dedicate precious minutes to them. That was what they deserved at least...
Edna arrived at the cemetery, her eyes spotting the church at once. She shuddered as she remembered that fateful night when she found out that the Key Master was really a murderer. In turn, she had killed him, which was something she felt bad about but it was either this or be killed for she was sure he would have done so sooner or later. But now that she thought about this, she wondered if he was buried here too. If he was, was he buried under his birth name, which, as Edna just realized, she did not know of? But even if she did know all this, what would she do? Would she pay him her respects? Well, it was the least she could do...
“Harvey... do you think the Key Master is buried around here somewhere?”
“I don’t know. And I don’t think we could find his grave. I doubt he was born with the name ‘Key Master’. Unless his mother was the worst name-giver in history.”
“But... what if there was an indication that this is his grave?”
“Well... we could look.”
“Yes, but only after we visited my parents.”
Edna remembered where she had found Mattis’s grave, so it did not take long for her to find it again. Unlike the other graves around this one, it was covered in moss and in need of a good cleaning. There were no flowers or memorabilia of the deceased’s on Mattis’s grave; it was just a sad, lonely tombstone with a dead person buried underground. A forlorn-faced Edna kneeled in front of the tomb and cleaned some of the moss away, just enough to reveal the inscription:
Last resting place of Mattis Konrad
31st January, 1957 – 20th April, 1999
That was all there was. No words of sentimental value, not even the words ‘beloved husband and father’. Just his name and dates of birth and death. Edna laid one flower bouquet on the grave and then traced the words on the tombstone with her index finger.
“Hey Dad”, she quietly greeted him. “How is it wherever you are right now? I hope it’s a beautiful place. I’m... I’m sorry you died because of me... because I killed Alfred... I never wanted any of this to happen... You should be alive and well, living a peaceful life in our home with a secure job. I... I really miss you... I wish you were somehow here again... with me...”
Edna sniffed. Tears ran freely down her face, like a never-ending cascade. She had cried before when she learned her father was really dead, but she had never shed so many tears. Was it that she only just now realized she would never see him again? That she would never wreck havoc again just for him to be exasperated with her? That she would never have those father daughter bonding times which had not realized before she actually valued? She did not know; she only knew her heart was aching. She wanted to scream, to let the world know of her pain. But she was unable to, her voice was too weak. So, she just kept crying.
Edna sniffed one more time, wiping away her tears. She had somewhat calmed down, though she was still aching inside. Slowly, she stood up and, with a quiet good bye, went to look for her mother’s grave.
She did not know where her mother was buried or what her name was. All she could do was to keep her eyes open for another tombstone with the last name ‘Konrad’ and a date of death that was at a time she was little. Edna did not know how long she was at her father’s grave but it was long enough for the sun to start setting. The church and the tombstones were casting long shadows in the red and golden light. Mosquitoes and dragonflies buzzed around; Edna swatted them away when they got too close. Her eyes were fixated on each tomb she passed, reading each inscription, until she found one she was hoping to find:
Last resting place of Vivian Konrad
4th December, 1960 – 30th June, 1995
Beloved Wife And Mother
Edna was certain this had to be her mother. The name was right as were the dates and besides, she had not found another Konrad, safe for Mattis. Vivian’s grave was on the other side of cemetery, as far away from her husband as she could possibly get. Edna thought this was unfair; even though everyone thought her father was a murderer upon his death, they could have at least buried him next to his wife. Still, seeing her mother’s grave caused a return of Edna’s tears, to the point she was even surprised she had some left. Tenderly, she laid the second flower bouquet on the grave. She said no words, for there she could not think of what to say. There was so much she wanted to say but could not find a beginning. So, she just spent endless minutes in silence with her mother...
Night had fallen. People had retreated into their homes or into the bar, leaving the streets deserted. Well, for the most part, since there was occasionally a person or two walking through the streets at night. Nevertheless, it was the safest time for the Key Master to be out and about. He kept himself just out of the range of the streetlight so that one would only see a shadowy figure walking around if they happened to look out of their windows. The Key Master did not know why he kept coming to the village if he knew he would not find anything. Perhaps he simply did not know what to do; he even started to doubt he would ever find Edna. The Key Master leaned against the exterior wall of the church, staring to his feet and asking himself: But why do I even want to find her?
If he had asked himself the question years ago, he would have immediately said to kill her for almost killing him. But now, in present time, he would hesitate. Maybe he just wanted to make sure she was alright, wanted to watch over her. He knew she was competent but he also knew she could get easily distracted by even the littlest thing. One time, for example, she randomly asked him to write something in her friendship book and once, she pretended to wed a pair of potholders with an old paint pot. Not to mention, she certainly had spent a good amount of time ruining anything in the asylum she could. There had to be a reason why he saw stains of ketchup and mustard as well as the sentence “Edna was here” or “Edna rules” and Doctor Marcel’s and the Barkeeper’s signature about everywhere when he went down to the garage where the getaway vehicle Edna had found was.
The Key Master looked ahead of him, seeing a lone figure kneeling in front of a grave. They seemed to be holding something but what, he could not tell. It did not seem to be small or heavy, a stuffed animal perhaps. Whoever this person was, he or she was leaving. The Key Master watched the retreating shadowy figure before walking to the grave the person was at. It was too dark to read the inscription, though he was able to make out a flower bouquet. Thus had to be the resting place of a special person for him or her, he figured. Normally, he did not care if he saw someone after sundown, unless he overheard the person saying something useful. This time, however, he felt some curiosity. Therefore he followed the lone person, keeping himself a good distance behind them. He could not explain it, but he had a feeling he knew this person, though he could not tell for sure due the lack of light. Still, he could make out something about this person or rather, what they were holding. It seemed to have long appendages on the top, for they were holding it from there, letting it dangle while they walked. The person trotted below a streetlamp, finally exposing more of their appearance, albeit only the back. Still, the Key Master could recognize the long dark purple hair and the blue stuffed rabbit anywhere. It was Edna, holding her Harvey.
With a heavy heart, Edna had left the cemetery. She had stayed there until the world around her was engulfed in darkness, with only the moon as the single source of light, the streetlights being the only exception. A few stars were out, twinkling like diamonds. Edna had no plans where to go to, she just let her feet lead her the way. In her mind, she was still with her parents, back to happier times when she was only scared of monsters hiding under her bed or in her closet.
“Harvey? Do you think you could tempomorph me back to a time when both my parents were alive?“, she asked her blue companion in a forlorn voice.
“Only if you found something that reminded you of the time”, Harvey told her. It was like her feet had listened and they knew where to go. She paid little to no attention to where she was going; she trusted her feet to lead her safely to the place she had to go.
Soon, Edna arrived at her destination. She was certain there had to be something that would remind her of happier times, unless it had been cleared out since the last time she was there. For some unexplained reason, she seriously doubted it. There was no point and if it had not been cleared out for over a decade, then why would somebody do it now? Edna entered her childhood home, finding it the way it was a few years ago. Well, maybe with more mold and decay. But everything else was the same; no one had bothered to enter this house for so long. In a trance-like state, she walked up the stairs to an upper floor and took a turn left. The door led her to her father’s study, which also functioned as his bedroom. She walked over to his bed, where a picture of her younger self hung on the wall.
“Hey, little Edna”, the young adult greeted the picture, only to hear a quiet voice in her head:
“Your fault. Your fault. Your fault.”
She grabbed her head, letting Harvey fall, and screamed for the voice to stop. She was aching all over her body, barely able to move a muscle. Her knees gave in, the voice in her head and the pain all over her body was too much for her. Never had she imagined she would feel like this if she were to return here. Would she always hear this voice inside her head, every time she was in her father’s house? Well, if this was the case, she had to be strong. She wanted to find something that reminded her of the time both her parents were alive. So, gathering her strength, she managed to stand up on wobbly knees. Taking deep breaths, she went through the drawer of her father’s desk, where she found nothing, and his closet in search of something. What she was looking for, she could not tell. She would know if she found it.
She found a box which was filled with documents and files of something Mattis had worked on around the time of Alfred’s death. He was never able to finish his work and Edna doubted she could finish it for him since she had no idea what it was about. Besides, whoever charged him with it surely did not wait over a decade for someone to come and finish it. But Edna clearly remembered how hard Mattis had worked on it. Often, when she would sneak downstairs, she would see the light of his candle still burning. He would have worked on whatever it was until the early morning hours; the only times he would have stopped working was when Edna was scared and came to him for comfort, though this had decreased over times. She did this almost every night following her mother’s death but she pretty much stopped when she was seven or eight years old. In fact, when she was that age, she would have come to his room just to tell him to get a good night’s rest.
“Huh? What’s that?“, Edna mumbled after finding another box she had not noticed when she had gone back to get some clothes. She took the object in question out. On top of it was a flashlight. She took the rather heavy cardboard box and stood up, heading towards the bed. Her mind filled with questions of what could be in there; she sat on the bed and removed the lid.
“Hey, haven’t you forgotten someone?“, she heard a voice call her. Edna sprang up, as if stung by an adder, and picked up her blue rabbit.
“Sorry, Harvey”, she apologized and sat back on the bed again. She laid Harvey down and took the first object out of the box. It was an old photo album...
He saw her entering a run-down house. He recognized it from a few days ago when he broke into the neighboring house, though he could not explain why she would go inside such a house. The exterior was decayed and as he walked around the property, he saw several garden gnomes, each one broken down into pieces, and the front door barely hanging from the hinges, as if someone broke it down. Walking around the house, he came across the porch, with a garden table and chair and a parasol, each object looking like it was in desperate need of repair. As he looked away from the house, he spotted the tool shed, which did not look much better than the house. He saw no point in checking out the tool shed, so he continued walking around the house, finding the backdoor and the open basement window. What kind of house was this? Was this Edna’s house, the place she wanted to go back to when she broke out with him, Hoti, Moti and Aluman all those years ago? If so, why would she want to go back there now? And, now the Key Master could not help but wonder, what did she find out there? Only one way to find out, he had to follow her inside the house. Before he could, he heard a scream from somewhere inside:
“AAAAHHH! NO! STOP THAT!”
For the first time feeling something he had not felt for years and thinking she was being attacked, he ran inside, momentarily distracted at the size of the interior. It looked much bigger on the inside than on the outside but the passing of time was even more prominent. He supposed it was once a beautiful place to live in but no time for imagining how it must have looked like in the past. He had to know why Edna screamed... and where she was. All he knew was her scream came from the upper floor but not from which room. The best he could do was to run up the stairs and check each room. He came across a door the moment he arrived on the second floor landing, so he opened it to find what looked like an old classroom. Edna and someone else probably had private lessons, the Key Master figured. But seeing no one was there, he left the room and tried one of the doors on his right hand side; the one that only consisted of a frame. This led him to the bathroom, which was devoid of any human too. Only one door left... he opened it quietly and, after looking around, found her at last. She sat on the bed, obviously not bothered by all the mold and cobwebs, with knees pulled up to her chest and holding a book in one hand, a flashlight in the other. So, she was not being attacked after all. The Key Master wanted to be mad at her for making him think that but he could not. He could see tears were streaming down her face as her eyes moved back and forth. It was a miracle she could still read this with all those tears in her eyes. At her feet was the blue stuffed rabbit she always spoke with as well as an opened cardboard box. Edna did not seem to have noticed the Key Master, too absorbed with the book she was reading. It would be easy to take revenge on her for almost killing him but something stopped him and it was not just the doubt he had been feeling for some time. For the second time tonight, he felt something he had not felt in years as he gazed upon the crying girl. He could not bring himself to kill her and it frustrated him. He was a mad killer, which was why he was in the asylum in the first place; the reason why he was in a solitary cell. So, why should the sight of a crying girl prevent him from killing her? There was nothing special about her; they had nothing in common, except having been stuck in the mental institution. The Key Master was so deep in thought, too busy to convince himself of these thoughts he almost missed a quiet sob coming from Edna:
“Mom... Dad... I wish you were still alive. I need you...”
Now the Key Master realized something; he was aware that Edna was still a child when she was brought into the asylum and he knew that Doctor Marcel kept trying to erase her memories. So, for her, it was like she went to sleep as a child and suddenly woke up as an adult. Maybe this was why he could not bring himself to kill her... If this were the case, then why did he have the feeling there was more to this? Not able to stop himself, he walked over, sat next to her and put an arm around her shoulders. During all this, his mind screamed to stop and leave her be but his limbs did not obey. For the first time since he arrived in this room, she showed a reaction other than sadness; she tensed up and breathed shallowly. Her eyes were as big as saucer plates, if he would not know it better, he would say she was a wax figure. Then, after what seemed like ages, she slowly turned her head to see him from face to face.
“Key Master!?“, she gasped.
“Hello, Princess”, he smirked. His voice was hoarse from lack of usage over the last few years. He chanced a quick glance at the book Edna was reading. He realized she had not been reading at all but had been looking at old photos. The Key Master’s brain barely had time to register a single picture. It was of a young bespectacled man and a young woman who looked a lot like Edna, holding a little bundle of joy.
Edna stared at the man in astonishment. For years, she had thought he was dead, but there he was, sitting next to her with an arm around her shoulders. She could not move; fear had paralyzed her body. What was he going to do to her? They had not exactly parted on good terms. Would he do the same to her as he did to the reverend? If he were, then why was he just sitting there? Why had he not done anything yet?
“I... I thought you were d-dead”, she stated stupidly. The Key Master looked down his body briefly before looking back at her:
“Funny, I don’t feel dead.”
Edna was not sure if she should laugh or be worried. Even if she had thought he was still alive, she certainly would not have imagined their reunion to be like this. His just joking around made her feel uneasy.
“What’s the matter, Princess? You look like you’ve seen a ghost”, the Key Master remarked.
“Why are you behaving like this?“, Edna asked, sounding braver than she felt. “Last time I saw you, you revealed your true face. You’re a murderer. So, why are you acting like everything’s peachy?”
An emotion briefly flashed across the Key Master’s face. She saw just barely, almost missed it in fact; therefore she could not identify it. However, he soon showed anger on his face, making her cower.
“Do you want me to be a ruthless killer?“, he asked venomously.
“N-no!“, Edna quickly squeaked. Calm down, she told herself and then spoke in a clear voice: “I just don’t know what to make of you.”
“Well, you haven’t seen me for years. Who says I haven’t changed?”
“Who says you have?“, Edna countered, closing the photo album. She put it back in the cardboard box and clamped it under her arm. She took Harvey with her free hand and stood up with the words:
“I should better get home...”
She ran towards the door, but was followed by the Key Master. She glanced briefly at him, not sure what to make of it. Was he following her because he wanted to kill her after all? All the same, he had never said he would not do this. Edna decided to be as careful as possible. Perhaps she was lucky and he would stop following her, though she had her doubts. Of course, she could demand he should leave her alone, if she were not so afraid. For a tiny little moment, she thought of screaming, but quickly ruled out the possibility. It might get him to stop following her, but it would attract attention to both him and her and that in turn would mean back to the asylum for them, which was something she certainly did not want for either of them.
“Hey Princess?“, the Key Master spoke up; though Edna made no indication that she heard him. “Whose grave was that I saw you at?”
Edna stopped dead in her tracks, almost letting Harvey and the box fall. The Key Master had been following her since she was at the graveyard? How long had he been following her before revealing himself? Ever since she arrived in this town earlier that day?
“Have you been stalking me all day long?“, Edna asked indignantly. She whirled around so fast she was just a purple blur, only to be momentarily surprised when she saw how close the Key Master was. However, she quickly replaced her big eyes and open mouth with a fierce look. Daggers might as well come out of her eyes.
“No, I have not”, the green-skinned man replied, raising his hands to shoulder height. “It was just a coincidence I saw you at the cemetery.”
Edna continued staring at him with narrowed eyes for at least another minute before deciding to believe him in this case.
“Okay... but why are you following me now?”
“Oh, I just thought we could catch up on old times, Princess”, the Key Master replied, showing no signs of emotions.
“Like the time you killed an innocent reverend and blamed his death on me?“, Edna retorted affronted. “Tell me, how many people have you killed and blamed their passing on me since that night?”
She did not know where she took her courage from. She just knew she was furious at the Key Master for talking to her like a normal person. Back when she first met him, he also spoke like this, which had convinced her to free him. And now, seeing him acting just like this reminded her of the ruse, of his revelation of being a madman. It made her blood boil.
“Not many, like the owner of the clothes I’m wearing, and I didn’t blame you for his death or any other”, the Key Master replied curtly. “And for the record, I wouldn’t have killed him if he hadn’t unexpectedly appeared.”
“I don’t know if that makes me feel better”, Edna remarked sarcastically. “And honestly? Not many? I would have thought the path you’ve been walking is littered with corpses.”
This time, she seemed to have stroke a chord. He suddenly grabbed her wrist, causing her to let the items she had been carrying to fall. He held her wrist so tight it was hurting her. She cowered in fear at the furious and mad glint in his eyes.
“You can be the next corpse on my list if you want to”, he grunted dangerously.
“N-no, thank you”, Edna stammered, trying to break free from his grip. He let her go and she almost toppled down but managed to keep her balance. She inhaled and exhaled deeply to calm her nerves before bending down to pick up her dropped items.
“Why are you so interested in catching up on old times?“, she asked in a quivering voice.
“I don’t know”, the Key Master replied, looking straight into Edna’s eyes. The furious and mad glint was gone. “I guess I’m just curious to see how you’ve been doing.”
Edna sighed, aware she was not going to get rid of him so easily. What was she supposed to do? Invite him to her apartment and introduce him to Tina? No chance! There was no way she would endanger her friend’s life. Also, what was she supposed to say? “Hello Tina, meet the Key Master, a mad killer I know from the asylum. He’s here to reminisce about old times”? Even in her head, it sounded ludicrous.
“Well, how do you imagine we catch up? I have to get home and I can’t come here every day. I have no time and I don’t want to risk going back to the asylum.”
“You could invite me to your home. Unless you know of another place I could hide out.”
“What!? No way you’re goi-“, Edna paused, realization dawning on her face. “Wait a minute, I do know of a place you could use as a hideout. It’s on the outskirts of the town I live in now, but it’s closer and easier than coming here every day.”
“Then how about a compromise? I spend the night at your place and tomorrow, you’re going to show me the hiding place. Deal?”
“Um...“, Edna hesitated. Should she really agree on this? Where should he sleep? He could possibly not sleep in the living room; she did not want Tina to see him. She could offer to lead him to the hideout right away but it was dark and she was not likely to find it so quick. “Alright...“, she eventually relented. “But before you enter my apartment, I want to make sure my housemate’s already asleep.”
Edna did not know why she agreed to let him come with her. Perhaps it was the relief to know he was not dead after all. She knew it sounded weird, even in her head, but that was the way she was feeling. True, she was wary of him and a little scared but death was not something she would wish for him.
“Agreed, but what do you intent to do if your housemate’s not sleeping yet?“, the Key Master wondered aloud, looking expectantly at her.
“I will think of something”, Edna shrugged. Then she went on to the train station, indicating for him to follow her.
“Edna, why are you letting him go with us?“, Harvey asked fearfully.
“Harv, he would have followed us even if I said no. It’s easier this way”, she explained in a whisper. “Besides, he made an indication that he had changed, earlier in Mattis’s study. Though I doubt it, I’m willing to give him a chance.”
“I hope you won’t regret it...“, the blue rabbit quietly stated.
Edna and the Key Master barely managed to catch the train. Otherwise, they would have needed to wait for three hours for the next one, as there were not so many driving. Little towns were not exactly known for having a public transportation system that would give one a ride every twenty minutes – only big cities did this. It was a quiet ride; barely anyone was using the train at this hour. Actually, the only people in here were Edna, Harvey and the Key Master. Edna viewed out to the passing landscapes, or rather tried to, for she could barely see anything. Still, she preferred this over glancing the other way. She did not want to look at the Key Master any more than she had to.
“Hey, Princess?“, he attempted to start a conversation. “How have you been doing since your failed attempt to kill me?"
There was a weird mix of amusement and accusation in his voice. Edna was not sure what to make of it.
“Not bad, I’m currently attending school. You know, for a proper graduation”, she replied, still looking out of the windows.
“That’s very wise of you. So tell me, how are you doing in school?”
“Quite good, actually. The other day, I held a presentation about Goethe – got an A. I’m not so good with Mathematics, though.”
“I hated Math when I was in school”, the Key Master told her. Edna turned to look at him, seeing him smirk. She could not help but give him the same expression.
“I prefer German and English”, Edna told him. “My housemate’s a great help with English. Music and Art aren’t bad either, but there are too many restrictions – I rather do arts in my free time.”
“Do you get along with your housemate?“, the Key Master asked curiously. The girl nodded in confirmation:
“Yes, she’s a great friend, though she would force me to watch movies in English. Then again, this actually improved my English skills.”
“Well, it is important to be able to speak English nowadays, so you can consider yourself lucky you don’t have a housemate who thinks you only need to speak German.”
“True”, Edna nodded, gazing back out of the window. They were quiet for the rest of the ride, with the exception of one instance when Edna told the Key Master when they had to get out.
It was not long until they arrived in the town Edna now called her home. The train station was devoid of any human life, except for a single ticket vendor, though he seemed to be sleeping on the job. She and her companion left the station and went out to the almost empty streets of the medium-sized town. Occasionally, they would come across some people on a nightly stroll, most of them obviously drunk.
“Hey, sweet – hic – heart. Why don’t y – hic – you leave that guy and get on with a... a real man?“, one passing man slurred. It was a miracle he could still stand and walk, the way he was swaying. Edna rolled her eyes, placing her forehead on the palm of her free hand, and shook her head.
“Leave her alone”, the Key Master snapped at the drunken man. He placed his hand on Edna’s shoulder and gently led her away from him and his friends. A part of him just wanted to kill the man, but he held back. He knew Edna would be appalled and his chance of proving he had changed would be ruined. Yes, he did not care about this when he murdered the reverend but years on the run could change a person. He just wanted to live a normal life, without the need of hiding. Why he chose Edna to help him, he did not know, though he reckoned it was because she was the only person intelligent and brave enough to aid him. At least of the relatively few people he knew of. Also, he knew she was determined, so if he could convince her to help him, he knew he could count on her.
“He didn’t bother you that much, did he?“, the Key Master asked her once they were far away from the drunken man and his friends.
“No, he was just annoying”, Edna replied. “But thank you for defending me. I’m not used to being hit on like this. Usually, I don’t meet many people on my way home from work. I have a part-time job as a waitress”, she added at his quizzical look. He nodded in understanding. However, hearing she was not used to being hit on that way, he wondered how much experience she had with romantic relationships – if she had any at all. Still, he was not going to ask her immediately; he would wait a while since he doubted she would be willing to tell him at this point.
Edna and the Key Master kept on walking until they stopped at an apartment complex. The girl took out her keys and unlocked the door, holding it open for her companion to enter. Then they took the elevator to one of the upper floor, where Edna unlocked the fourth door in the hallway. She closed the door after the Key Master entered and, after indicating to wait here for her, went into the living room. There, she was met by the sight of the television displaying the main menu of a Star Trek Voyager DVD and Tina, who sat on the couch with the remote directed to the player, looking right at her.
“Edna!“, Tina exclaimed, putting the remote down and walking towards her. “I was so worried about you. Where were you?”
“I was visiting my parents’ graves... and then, I was at my old home”, Edna replied, nodding towards the box she was holding.
“I see”, Tina nodded, looking at the box before looking back at her friend. “Listen, about earlier, my joke with the photo of you in a bikini – I’m sorry, it was inconsiderate of me.”
“It’s alright, everyone does or says stupid things”, the dark haired girl smiled. Tina smiled back.
“By the way, I took the liberty of heating the clay sculpture you were working on. I hope I did a right thing...”
“Don’t worry; I was almost finished with it anyway. You were doing me a favor with it.”
“Oh, good to know. By the way, I’m gonna watch a Star Trek episode before I hit the hay. Would you like to watch too... after I made a sandwich?“, Tina added after her stomach grumbled. “Do you want one too?”
“Sure, for both”, Edna nodded. Tina disappeared into the kitchen and, the moment she was gone, Edna put the cardboard box and Harvey down. With her free hands, she grabbed the Key Master, who was still outside, by his hands, and dragged him into her room.
“Wait here”, she told him and quickly took the box from the living room and placed it on her bed. “And don’t touch anything.”
Then she was back in the living room, sitting on the couch with Harvey on her lap. Her eyes were directed towards the coffee table but not really seeing it. She was lost in her thoughts. Should she really give the Key Master a chance? Did she make a mistake by doing so? But it was too late now – she could not back out. All she could do is to hope she would not regret it.
Tina came back with a big plate full of sandwiches, which she out on the coffee table. As soon as her hands were free, she took the remote, sat down and selected the episode Somebody To Watch Over Me, saying, as always, “Engage.”
The episode was about the Doctor teaching Seven of Nine about romantic relationships, only to fall for her. Meanwhile, the crew of the Voyager had a guest on board from a species that ate their meals with no seasons – he ended up trying some foreign food and got drunk on something on would normally not get drunk on. Edna giggled at the antics of the drunken man; he was funnier than the guy who hit on her earlier. That, and it was not her he was hitting on.
Tina went to bed once the episode was over. Edna waited for a while until she was sure she would not come out again and took Harvey and the leftover sandwiches, as well as apple juice and a glass from the kitchen, and went to her room.
“I got you something to eat and drink”, she announced to the Key Master, who was looking at the clay figures she had made. He glanced at her as she placed the items on her desk.
“Thanks”, he said, sitting down and grabbing a sandwich. “Say, what photo was your housemate talking about earlier? And that joke regarding it?”
Edna, who was about to take her pajamas, paused and made an awkward face. She had completely forgotten he would have heard Tina talking about it. Of course he would want to know what this was about, would want to understand it... Slowly, Edna turned around and looked straight into his eyes:
“If you don’t mind, I would rather not talk about it.”
The Key Master shrugged, “Alright”, and went back to eating. For the first time since she saw him again in her old house, Edna had a proper look of the Key Master – not counting the time on the train as she did not really pay attention to his appearance – and could see how he had changed over the years. His once green skin was now a healthier color, though there was still a tint of green; his eyes were not as large and bulgy anymore and he had traded his nightgown with a V-necked white shirt, a pair of jeans and a Bordeaux belt. Over his shirt, he wore a green jacket and his feet were covered in black boots. Though she would deny she ever thought this, Edna had to admit he looked better than he did a few years ago.
She took her pajamas and left the room, going to the bathroom. There she brushed her teeth and got changed, though she did not return immediately. Staring at her reflection, she kept asking herself where the Key Master should sleep. She had not thought about this when she agreed to let him sleep at her place. What was she supposed to do now? She could not demand he should leave; it would be unfair. Perhaps she should talk to him about this...
“Yes, I should talk to him”, Edna decided and left the bathroom. When she returned to her room, the Key Master did not sit at her desk anymore and the plate, the glass and bottle of apple juice were gone. She looked around and found him sitting on her bed, wearing nothing but his underpants. Edna stared at him with a wide open mouth, clearly having not expected anything like this.
“You don’t happen to have some spare pajamas in my size now, do you, Princess?“, he asked, smirking at her expression. Edna shook her head to clear it and replied:
“Let me see...”
She walked over to her closet and took out the box where she kept her parents’ clothes. She spent several minutes rummaging through old sweaters, jeans, shirts, dresses, underwear and so on until she found an oversized gray shirt. Edna never understood why Mattis owned it, for three or four of him would have fitted in this. At least it was something. She threw the old shirt to the Key Master, who caught it, and put the box back into her closet.
“Um, you know... I just realized I have no idea where you could sleep”, she shyly confessed, standing at her bed. She bit her bottom lip and scratched her arm, waiting for an unpleasant reaction.
“Oh? Well then...“, the Key Master, who was now wearing the gray shirt, started talking, “I guess I will just have to sleep in here.”
He smirked at Edna’s comical face; her jaw almost hit the floor when she dropped it and her eyes almost popped out of their holes. Unintelligible stammer made their way out of her mouth.
“A-a-a-a-and where.... where am I sup... supposed to sleep?“, she finally managed to ask.
“Who said you can’t sleep here?“, he retorted, moving over a bit to make room for her. Edna blushed, never having shared the bed with another human being – except the times when she went to her father in her childhood – but never as adult with another adult. She was not even sure if she should agree with this, there was something inappropriate about this.
“Come on, I won’t bite or do anything else you don’t want me to”, he encouraged her. Edna gulped and nodded.
“I’m going to trust you on that...“, she joined him in bed while saying this. The Key Master was out like a light almost immediately, but she stayed awake. If she had to, she would stay awake all night long...